To break into a glamorous goat-whispering career, prospective hilltop therapists must first learn to reach their patients. For $18, today's Groupon gets you an adult starter package at Planet Rock in either Pontiac or Ann Arbor, a $42 value (adults are 14 or older). This package includes a pass for your first day, during which you'll get basic instruction, shoe rental, harness rental, chalk-bag rental, belay-device rental, and one free day pass to use within 30 days of your initial visit.
After one of Planet Rock's half-salamander, half-mountain-goat instructors teaches you the finer points of rock-climbing safety and corrects common beginner mistakes (burrowing into the earth, getting trapped inside the rock, walking up the wall horizontally), you'll be free to explore all the ways one can climb a rock on Planet Rock. Besides classic top-rope and belay climbing, you can also doff the harness and do a little bouldering close to the ground in one of Planet Rock's caves. To feel like you're training for Ninja Warrior, you'll want to test your rock-talons on the rock-tread wall, a treadmill climbing wall that rotates as you climb it according to the speed and angle you set. Planet Rock changes the routes on its 55-foot walls every week, as well as the ogres in its bouldering caves, keeping your mind as active as the rest of your body. Once your first day of instruction and climbing is finished, you'll still have a second day pass to try it again within 30 days.
A day of instruction and climbing at Planet Rock will help prepare you for the inevitable day when you're dangling from a sheer cliff and must hang on until the supervillain above you finishes monologuing his master plan. You can also buy extra Groupons for any belay-holding buddies you know who won't get distracted by passing butterflies. Call ahead or arrive at least 2.5 hours prior to closing to allow enough time for instruction. You must sign a waiver prior to climbing.
Planet Rock challenges novice and experienced climbers alike to discover the depth of their willpower reservoirs. Towering as high as five stories tall, the ever-changing climbing walls offer climbers a sense of adrenaline-pumping accomplishment and allow short folks to finally see what grows on top of the human head. And to help climbers reach these great heights, a team of experienced instructors lead free-climb programs, summer camps for kids ages 4 and older, and classes for those of all ages.
But it's not all rock climbing, lead climbing, and bouldering. At the Madison Heights location, the altitude addicts have debuted an aerial silks program, in which they teach students to scale up and slide down long, flowing silks—an activity that can improve the balance and strengthen the core of any participant. The instructors also work one-on-one with climbers who have special needs, assisting individuals with hearing, visual, or physical impairments, and the climbing gym has hosted the climbing portion of the Extremity Games for individuals with amputations.